Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Counter-Editorial

Every so often I get material forwarded from several sources. Sometimes they're urban myths, and I know almost immediately to check them out at But in the case of this one, I first wrote my own editorial response (which I rarely do) for the "Reply to All" category. The site referenced below contains the text of the "editorial" that came to me.

To prove that I am real and not an urban myth, I decided to post my response here as well.

------------E-mail response begins------------

Normally I don't comment on these e-mails ... but today I felt I had to.

After I wrote my response (which now follows the information below), I checked, a site that debunks urban myths. Here is what I found at

Snopes writes:

"Reporter Greg Kearney, writing for the Lee News Service, traced the story to a correctional facility in Fulton, Missouri, and came away with a decidedly different version of events from Missouri state officials....The man who gave the presentation about Islam was not a Muslim minister; he was an inmate pressed into service to present a short film on Islam and and answer some questions when the prison's Volunteer Coordinator was 'unable to find an Imam to speak.'"

Snopes goes on to quote Tim Kniest, Public Information Officer for the Missouri Department of Corrections, who said, "...the Volunteer Coordinator at the prison said that no such exchange as the editorial reported ever took place....the coordinator does not recall any questions dealing with jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world as reported in the editorial."

Not only was there no shame involved, and no head-hanging, but the inmate had been "thanked by the assembly before being escorted back to his quarters."

Before I checked, I wrote the following, to which I've added a couple of lines since:

1. How many of you have read the Tanakh?
2. How many of you know what the Tanakh is? (For those of you who don't, it's what non-Jews and many Jews, including myself, call the "Old Testament" -- but originally it was called the Tanakh.)
3. How many of you have read the New Testament?
4. Which version? Do you know how many different versions there are? Do you know how differently they read from one another, how many different interpretations of the ancient Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek?
5. How many of you have read the Koran?
I have read several versions of the Tanakh and of the New Testament cover to cover. I have also read one version of the Koran from cover to cover, and texts in other faiths as well.
6. How many of you know that the Koran refers to Jews, Christians, and Muslims all as "of the Book"?

I am Jewish.

My mother taught English in an inner-city high school during the 60s and 70s. When I was a kid, she told me stories about her job that would curl your hair. Mixed in with those nightmares were stories of simple and profound decency.

During the 1967 War, she told me about three girls in one of her classes: one Jew, one Muslim Arab, one Black. They were best friends.

They told her, "We can get along. Why can't they?"

There will always be peoples of different faiths who are extremists. And who are moderates. And who are pacifists. And who are idealists.

And who are liars.

There are different ways of interpreting "of the Book." Surah II in the Koran makes mention of the fighting between Jews and Christians who can't agree on how to interpret the Book (and as I interpret the Koran, the Book means the Bible). The word "Muslim" means "to submit." Some might interpret that as submitting to a human conqueror, a terrorist perhaps. Others might interpret that as submitting to the Law as handed down to Moses, whom the Koran calls Musa. Others might interpret that as submitting to someone else's god.

Some might interpret it as submitting to an "editorial," penned in hatred, without first checking the facts.

From my reading of the Koran, I interpret "Allah" as being another word for "Jehovah," the way "Isa" is another word for "Jesus," "Musa" is another word for "Moses," and "Ibrahim" is another word for "Abraham." It's a matter of language.

But don't take my word for it. Read the text for yourself and make your own interpretations.
is an electronic text version of the Shakir translation that I first read in hardcopy in the 1980s.

I've sat in on Bible study meetings and heard different interpretations of the New Testament. I've transcribed Midrash: scholarly discussions concerning passages in the Tanakh.

People disagree about scripture all the time. Some use their interpretations as reason to take a gun into their hands. Some choose to look for common ground, to try to reach past hatred and extremism. I've known Muslims who are far different from the nonexistent "imam" in Mathes's article.

There are no easy answers. There are always shades of gray.

But we are all human beings. Let's start from there.

[end of entry]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snipped off of Mr. Mathes' website. YUK.


By Rick Mathes

Dear Cousins,

Please accept the god we trust in and you too will share in these advantages of our culture:

1.Eliminating God from government and replacing Him with any god you may choose will conform to our “In any gods we trust” motto.

2. M.D.’s (murdering doctors) will kill your unwanted babies as they struggle to wiggle their way into the arms of parents that don’t want them.

3. The aged, disabled and unproductive will be given the option of a dignified death by the same M.D.’s that have said an oath of preserving life.

4. Queers and perverts (sexual predators) will be able to marry and adopt children that will propagate the their mentally ill lifestyles. Whatever happened to common sense?

5. Weekend marriages (married on Fri and divorced on Mon) will become the new rage.

6. Legalizing prostitution will eliminate the curse of immorality and adultery.

7. The underprivileged minorities will gamble their last dinar and the ruling class will pay fewer taxes because of their squandering of money and addiction to chance.

8. We will install our “dumbing-down” Department of Education so that the elite will continue to have control and authority over lower class repressed students.

9. Pornography will be very available in every form on the pretence that this will prevent “acting out” acts of sexual offences.

10. Our new enemy interrogation methods will be photographed and published uncut at a wonderful profit that will help the salary needs of “mentally sick” army personnel.

11. Our capitalistic corporate leaders will teach you how to rip off millions from fellow citizens and only have small and insignificant penalties to pay without complete restitution.

12. We will export our profitable prison industry as we have become the number one nation in the world expanding industry profits from incarcerating the most number of prisoners.

13. And we will show you how you too can merchandise “Kentucky Fried Christianity” as we have so that you too will never have to be accountable to God for the 10 Commandments our country was founded on.

Judge Roy Moore told me that the question our country needs to resolve is,

“Can the State acknowledge God?”

Upon that answer, our future as a nation “under God” rests.

We the ungodly people of Amerika do strongly encourage you to accept our superior culture or we will blow your country to dust, except the oil fields of course!


The Godless people of Amerika

Word Count 438

PS My natural father was blown to bits in WWII defending the Judeo-Christian values of America that have been trampled on. Now, all I have left is a purple heart and the flag that draped his casket. And all America has is a country without God. This article is written in memory of my Dad.

9:35 PM  

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